Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yes. Rest.

When all that you need to do is sit on a bicycle and pedal 50-100 miles each day, it is easy to forget what day of the week or month it is.  A couple of days ago I actually checked the date and realized that I had been riding nearly three weeks straight since I left Washington D.C.  During my planning and riding, I knew that at some point I would want to take a rest day here and there, but when?  It's hard to plan because you don't want to spend a day off in the middle of nowhere nor do you want to pay multiple nights for a motel or something to make it luxurious.  When I arrived in Farmington, MO though, I knew that I had found my spot.

In Booneville, KY a cyclist named Patrick had mentioned that he spent a night at "Al's Place" and that it was pretty sweet.  I hadn't remembered what town it was in, but when I saw it listed as an option for Farmington, I had to check it out.  Al's Place is a bicyclist hostel run by the community of Farmington in the town's old historic jail.  You call the local police and they provide the code to the keypad on the front door and voila you are in.  It was stepping into sweet bliss.  The place is air conditioned and there are ceiling fans (it's getting into the 100s these days).  There're couches and a TV, kitchenette, multiple bunks with linens, showers and laundry facilities.  I met Greg, the guy who maintains the hostel, and he encouraged me to stay multiple nights in order to get a rest day in.  Overall, the place looks like a really nice apartment.  And all at a low, low cost of a $20 donation per night.

First I slept in until the late hour of 7:30 am.  When you're waking up at 5:30 or 6 everyday, this accordingly feels like bliss.  Then I sat around and drank coffee and read magazines.  My bike needed a little TLC so I took off my chain, cleaned it, and lubed some parts.  When it got to lunch time, I rode around aimlessly until I located a Mexican restaurant to satiate me.  Afterwards, I went to the movie theatre to see Rock of Ages which will henceforth be known to me as the greatest movie ever.  All you need to know is that it is a musical and all of the music is 80's hairband hits.  Recipe for awesome.  Upon returning to the hostel, I found that I fortunately had some company to liven up the place tonight.  Pete and Ian from the U.K. are riding east to finish up a ride that they have been on since last September and eventually (and possibly unwillingly) find some jobs.  Now I am looking forward to taking another shower, washing my stanky shorts, eating far too much food and talking with them about the riding.

In riding 120 hilly miles through Illinois, this is the only such sign that I saw.  Still, it is more notice than I got in the several other hilly states I've ridden through.
This was the last thing that I want to see along my route.  I tried going on anyway.  It turns out the road was indeed closed and where the construction crews were digging big holes in the road, no car could pass.  But a bike can easily be wheeled around them...
There are quite a few statues of Popeye around Chester, IL.  I don't know what else to note about the town.
The bridge over the Mississippi River taking me to Missouri.  Fortunately, no coal or sand trucks caught me in the middle of the narrow bridge.  Just at the narrow offramp.  Twice.
At Al's Place you can find real mattresses!  With real linens!  Farmington, MO
The digital TV and faux leather couches make plenty of people feel at home.  They make me feel like I'm in someone's much nicer home.
Racing jerseys and memorabilia decorate the walls
Coffee.  It's a beautiful thing.
Did I mention that they have a complete separate and locked bike room with a workstand?  The Surly receives some attention.
My friend Jeff Carlson tipped me off about the ease of cleaning your chain with a 2 liter soda bottle , some dish detergent/degreaser, and hot water.  This is a great method when you're travelling.  Just don't use boiling water cause you can start to melt the bottle as I did.  Then just cap the bottle and shake the heck out of it.
State College, PA has finally been represented on their map.
Sorting out the maps and such that I'm done with and will send home at some point.  Every ounce counts.  You can carry more cat food then.


  1. Wait 'til Mary hears that you spent two nights in the Farmington, MO jail! Now all I need is a good line to feed her. Sounds like a great place for some much needed R&R. I think this should be on your permanent record!

  2. I just KNEW you would love Rock of Ages! So glad you found such great entertainment for your rest day. Keep up the good work :)

  3. I am loving your writing Tom! Safe travels and much love coming to you from State College!!!